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EPB campaign to boost Pakistan exports

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EPB campaign to boost Pakistan exports

EPB plans to hire warehouse space of about 10,000 to 30,000 square feet for ex-stock goods

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Mar 25 - 31, 2002

The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has launched a scheme for marketing of Pakistani products in Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, Central Asia Republics, Australia and New Zealand.

It may be recalled that such marketing development by foreign countries in Germany were quite popular in the 60s as a substitute to the special fairs which developed in the following years to be the main show cases of the exporting countries.

The EPB is considering to revive the programme to encourage and promote export consortia to establish sales and service offices in foreign countries.

Tariq Ikram EPB chief has already discussed the parameters of the warehousing scheme with persons engaged in export,. warehousing and freight forwarding.

In order to carry out the scheme, EPB plans to hire warehouse space of about 10,000 to 30,000 square feet for ex-stock goods, surgical instruments and other goods.

The space will be offered free of cost to the exporters initially for a period of one year. The expenses will be borne by the EPB from Export Development Fund. Altogether the investment in this ambitious global scheme could be estimated at $15 to $20 million.

In fact the warehouse scheme is the part of an overall marketing campaign for Pakistani product to enhance exports which have registered a 0.4 per cent decline after September 11 events. The decline in exports was however offset due to a drastic cut in imports, which have also registered a decline of 9.6 per cent during the period.

Pakistan's total exports during the July-February period of the current financial year stood at $5.809 billion against $5.988 billion during the same period last year.

Besides purchase of space for warehouses, holding trade exhibitions and publicity through media abroad, the EPB has also launched an education programme providing guidelines to the potential exporters especially to operate in the EU countries. The State Bank of Pakistan has reduced the financial charges on export refinancing to a record low of 7 per cent. Dr. Ishrat Hussain, governor SBP while talking to PAGE at a seminar said that it was a long-standing demand of the exporters to reduce the rate on export refinancing which the SBP accepted. He expressed the hope that the financial facilities being provided by the SBP would produce good results and the exporters will rise to the occasion by utilizing the facility more productively.

The government is also considering announcing a package of incentives for the exporters who suffered financial crunch following the cancellation of orders by the importers in the backdrop of September 11 events. According to an estimate, a huge loss of over $2 billion was imposed on the economy in Pakistan in the aftermath of the terrorist acts in Washington and New York in September this year.

The European countries, according to EPB offer tremendous opportunities for Pakistani products after adoption of Euro as a single currency for 11 countries.

Shaukat Iqbal, Chairman of KCCI's sub-committee on exports however said that the Chamber has not been informed about the warehouse scheme being launched by the EBP. He said that since the private sector plays the key role in promotion of domestic or foreign trade, the representative bodies of the private sector should be taken into confidence to make these schemes transparent and successful.

The economy has got through the difficult times and there are strong signals at macro-economic level which would certainly translate onto the micro level in the coming days. The agriculture which a major contributor to the GDP has produced surpluses in wheat, rice, sugar and cotton despite facing water shortages. This surplus situation can help the export sector especially in view of Afghanistan situation which finally settling. There are tremendous opportunities to enhance our exports by selling the surplus in Afghanistan for which international support is required.

The government has however chalked out a policy to export of surplus wheat in a shortest possible time with view to create sufficient storage space before the arrival of a new crop.

Tariq Ikram feels that it's a challenge for exporters to enhance Pakistan's shares in the EU market, which has allowed duty free access for Pakistani products except some textile products and yarn. The manufacturing sector in Pakistan can carve a respectable place in the Eastern Europe by meeting the market demand easily.

Accelerated efforts are indeed required to enhance foreign trade as the exports are likely to decline further in the second half of the current year because of the lagged impact of cancelled export orders and less than anticipated access to the Western markets especially the United States.

The federal minister for commerce fears that at the end of the current fiscal, the total exports from Pakistan may not hit the mark of $9 billion. The Federal Board of Exports is likely to announce a downward revision of the export target, which was set at $10 billion for the current fiscal year.